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One win changes it all: Joe O's plan to take heat off Madge

A win - no matter how ugly - is all the Wests Tigers need to take the heat off coach Michael Maguire and the club, according to forward Joe Ofahengaue.

Singing the team song is not something Ofahengaue has been used to in recent times, with the Tongan representative winning just one of his past 24 matches at Brisbane and now the Tigers.

Having been part of the Broncos' disastrous 2020 campaign, Ofahengaue knows things will only get worse off-field if Maguire's men don't respond during the next month.

The joint venture have endured their toughest start to a season in club history but Ofahengaue believes a win against the Dragons on Sunday would immediately take pressure off the side.

As is so often the case it's the coach in the firing line, with reports on Sunday night following their heavy loss to the Sea Eagles that Maguire was under pressure to keep his job.

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CEO Justin Pascoe addressed the playing squad earlier this week, denying the coach's days were numbered, and Ofahengaue has mounted a passionate defence of the man who brought him to Leichhardt.

"He signed me to come here and was a big reason why I moved down," Ofahengaue told

"You've got to stick up for your coach. Every other player here has his back. It's not all on him - in the end there are 17 jerseys that go out there each week and they've got to do their job.

"We wouldn't be having these conversations or being asked questions by the media or have stories written about us if we were winning.

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"One win changes it all. If we don't get those wins it's only going to get worse, but there are no hard feelings with any of the boys.

"There's no point coming in and kicking stones."

After pushing the high-flying Rabbitohs to the limit in round six, the Tigers were embarassed by Manly just a week later, and Ofahenguae puts the rollercoaster ride down to the fact the Tigers are still searching for their identity.

"We're not dealing with adversity well on the field," he said.

"We had Manly on the ropes for the first 25 minutes [last week] and then Tom Trbojevic makes a break, they scored an easy try and it broke our spirits.

"We've got to deal with those moments better. It's on all of us. We need to think about what we can do better as a team."

Despite a tough start to his time in Sydney, Ofahengaue is enjoying the move south after six seasons at Red Hill.

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He'll get a chance to start at lock on Sunday in a position he wants to make his own.

"I honestly think I'm playing some consistent footy, better than what I was tossing up last year," he said.

"One win will make it feel better but I've got to be grateful for the position I'm in."

Meanwhile, the club received a boost on Wednesday with 19-year-old hooker Jake Simpkin signing a two-year extension to remain at Concord until at least the end of the 2024 season. 

Simpkin has been a shining light over the past fortnight of defeats after making his NRL debut against South Sydney. 

"Jake's worked incredibly hard since he's come to Wests Tigers and has shown a great attitude and commitment to all that’s been asked of him," Maguire said.

"He's still got his entire career ahead of him and we're looking forward to watching him develop further as a player in Wests Tigers colours for many years to come."


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Wests Tigers respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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